Some fast food customers in 10 states aren’t exactly “lovin’ it” as of late. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating a multistate food poisoning outbreak thought to be linked to salads sold at McDonald’s. The Food and Drug Administration reports that 163 people have developed an intestinal illness and three people have been hospitalized. There are currently no reported deaths.
The Golden Arches has pinpointed its lettuce blend as the source, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still working to identify common ingredients eaten by each customer before they became sick, and multiple components of the salads are under consideration.
As of July 13, McDonald’s had stopped serving salads at 3,000 outposts in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. The chain said in a release that will resume selling these items once it’s able to switch to another lettuce supplier.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chain’s “proactive actions” mean that “there likely is not ongoing risk to consumers who eat at those McDonald’s locations.”
In a statement to The Daily Meal, McDonald’s said: “The health and safety of our customers and the people who work in McDonald’s restaurants is always our top priority. The additional states identified by the FDA and CDC are among the same states where a week ago we proactively decided to remove our lettuce blend in impacted restaurants and replace it through a different supplier. McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality and we continue to cooperate and support regulatory and public health officials in their investigations. For those seeking additional information about Cyclospora, we encourage them to visit the CDC and FDA websites.”
The illness in question is called cyclosporiasis. It is an intestinal sickness caused by a microscopic parasite called Cyclospora cayetanensis. People become infected about one week after consuming contaminated food or drink — typically imported fruits and vegetables.
Symptoms can last from one day to a month or longer, and include watery diarrhea, frequent and “sometimes explosive,” bowel movements, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach pain, bloating, gas, nausea, and fatigue. Some may also experience vomiting and other flu-like symptoms.
Harmful bacteria and parasites can be passed onto food at fast food joints, sit-down restaurants, and grocery stores — even to brands consumers know and trust. Luckily, there are tons of ways to help prevent foodborne illnesses from compromising your immune system, and some steps are as easy as always washing your hands. For more ways to ensure your own well-being, check out our tips for avoiding food poisoning.